Vancouver Wedding Story: A Camping-Themed Wedding in a Vintage Schoolhouse

This Vancouver couple headed to the suburbs to create their laid-back, camping-themed celebration of love.

February 28, 2018

By Stacey McLachlan / Photo: Carla Elaine Photography

Though in their respective day jobs, Adam and Jen are decidedly indoor kids (he’s a comedian who works in animation; she’s a bookkeeper), on any given summer weekend, you’re likely to find them setting up camp in the great outdoors in Penticton, in small Washington State towns or beyond—the pair even got engaged while camping on a Maui beach.

So it’s hardly surprising that their wedding this past July took its cues from camp life, incorporating vintage lanterns, folding chairs, wood cuttings and flannel, into a super-sweet day celebrating their relationship.

Here, Adam and Jen share what they learned planning and personalizing a ceremony and reception in and around a historic schoolhouse that included a fake campfire, a giant game of Connect 4, handmade cake-toppers and plenty of good old-fashioned romance.

The Vibe: Vintage Camping

The Budget: $13,500 (including help from the bride and groom’s families)

Number of Guests: Around 50.

The Venue: Inverholme Schoolhouse at Deas Island Park, Ladner

Photographer: Carla Elaine Photography

Adam sourced his suit from Top Man. Jen’s dress is an ivory bridesmaid dress from Brentwood Bridal.
The bride and groom lasercut their own “crest” into enamel camping mugs and gave one to each member of their wedding party.

The schoolhouse was built in 1909, but played host to Jen and Adam’s wedding reception in 2017.
A faux campfire was paired with vintage camping chairs and layered rugs to create an indoor-outdoor-living-room-meets-campsite-vibe.


The Game Plan for the Big Day: Ceremony on the lawn, cocktail hour also on the lawn (with a faux firepit and vintage camping chairs setup atop an antique rug), dinner and speeches inside a heritage one-room schoolhouse, followed by a karaoke dance party.

The Cost-Saver: “We did a lot of DIY decorating,” says Jen. She and Adam made their own cake-toppers from polymer clay, cut up burlap bunting and collected wood rounds for centrepieces. For the food, Adam and Jen ordered snack trays for cocktail hour from Save-On at a fraction of the cost of catered canapes (“And they all got eaten,” says Adam). They made their own wine at Tom’s Eastvin Winery and designed their own labels with funny pun names.

In Case of Rain: “Our plan was umbrellas,” says Jen. “As a guest, if it’s pouring rain, our guests will bring umbrellas, and if they don’t, that’s on them.” They just added a note to the invitation informing everyone as such. Luckily, it turned out to be a beautiful day.

A handmade pallet itinerary with laser-cut lettering propped open the schoolhouse door.
Wildflowers were displayed in vintage enamel camping coffee pots atop lace-and-burlap table runners.


The Worth-It Splurge: The karaoke. “We got a good deal on a DJ, and for only an extra hundred dollars they provided a karaoke TV,” says Adam. “I think that was one of the things that got people to stay until the bitter end.”

The seating chart was typed onto old library cards.


What They Wished They’d Skipped: “The cake,” says Jen. “We had made these cake toppers, and then it was like, ‘we don’t even want a cake but we made these toppers so we had better get one.'” And then no one even ate it, because we didn’t remember to cut it, because we didn’t care.”

Adam and Jen built their own bar using stained wooden crates, vintage camping thermoses and coolers.
Smore cupcakes were an on-theme choice for the dessert, displayed on a homemade wood-cut cake stand.


The Best Planning Advice: Though there’s plenty of tips out there (including this article), Jen and Adam advocate just ignoring advice altogether. “Everyone had something to say that they thought was super important. You have to do this, you have to do that,” says Jen. “But I had to tune it all out. Everyone has a different idea for what they want so do what you want.”

The karaoke setup had guests performing for the dance floor late into the night.
Punny labels adorn the wine, made at Tom’s Eastvin Winery.


Favourite Thing About the Wedding: For Adam, it was the speeches. “We lucked out that we have really world-class performers who happen to be our friends, but even if you don’t have those people in your lives, everyone likes to hear about what your dad or mom has to say. I would say, don’t be worried about having the speeches go too too long. People are expecting speeches,” he says. Of course, the indoor-outdoor mix of spaces was important to the couple too: “Having an outdoor aspect was important from the get-go,” says Adam, “and I’m glad my memories have nature and sunshine in them.”

Do you have a real Vancouver wedding you’d like to share? We want to hear from you! Shoot us some photos and a quick description of the day at mail@vanmag.com and we’ll be in touch.

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